10,000 Syrian Leaders

On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies hosted Lina Sergie Attar, the founder and CEO of the Karam Foundation, a non-profit organization that develops education programs for Syrian refugee youth, distributes smart aid to Syrian families, and funds development projects by Syrians for Syrians.

Attar delivered a lecture on the impact of the Foundation’s work on the lives of Syrian refugee children in Turkey.  She announced the Foundation’s commitment to build 10,000 Syrian leaders in 10 years through the Karam House program.


Approximately 1,000 Syrian refugee youth are enrolled at Karam House in Reyhanli, Turkey. After the opening of Karam House Istanbul several weeks earlier, 80 students have already enrolled.

These houses are open to everyone in the community, including Turkish citizens, and promote “seeing-based learning, focused on technology, arts, entrepreneurship, creative-based learning, and design,” Attar stated.

Read about the Karam House exhibition that was featured at Johns Hopkins SAIS in 2018.

The goal behind the Karam House program is to challenge the binary narrative of the Syrian refugee as either a problem or a hero that succeeds against all odds.

Attar stated that “it’s time to stop the stories that are designed to make audiences feel empathy or relatable. I want to have you think about a different kind of story for Syrian refugee teens…the story is simply about asking ‘What if? What if Syrian refugee teens were problem solvers, and not the problem?”


Dr. Bobbie McKenzie, Senior fellow at New America and director of its Muslim Diaspora Initiative, joined Attar along with The Big Picture Executive Director Shamila N. Chaudhary for a discussion with the audience.

After the presentation, participants viewed an exhibition featuring portraits of youth from the Karam House in Turkey.

Watch the discussion here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s